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Sunday Bulletin: What voters said about abortion and why the racist history of purity culture matters in elections

Hey y’all. The midterm elections are over, but some runoffs remain in competitive races. Even though the ballots are cast, the election news has truly just begun, as now candidates are ramping up for 2024.

Reporting on the ramifications of the election is far from over. This week, we’re talking about what the results of five abortion-related measures on the ballot, why Christian Nationalism doesn’t match America’s trajectory and the racist history of both Christian Nationalism and purity culture. (They’re more intertwined than you think).

If you’ve got stories, comments or just want to say hey, you can send me an email at abeahm@reckonmedia.com. I’m also on Twitter @_AnnaBeahm. DM’s are always open for y’all. Let’s dive in.

Voters reject abortion restrictions and embrace abortion rights

Last week in the bulletin, we talked about these five abortion-related constitutional amendments that were on the ballot Tuesday. Voters made it clear at the ballot: Americans want access to abortion care. Preliminary results from the midterm elections show voters overwhelmingly supported measures protecting abortion rights and rejected measures that would further restrict or ban abortion.

Legal abortions fell some 6 percent in the two months after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision erased the constitutional right to abortion. In 13 states, most abortions are banned with narrow exceptions. And the threat of a national ban on abortion is real, especially if Democrats do not, at minimum, hold their current ground in the midterms. Runoff elections in December will determine which party has the slight advantage in congress.

Abortion bans are severely unpopular—a scant 8 percent of Americans say that abortion should be banned in all cases, according to the most recent data from the Public Religion Research Institute. Results from Tuesday’s elections seem to mirror this data.

California, Proposition 1 — PASSED

Proposition 1 will enshrine the right to abortion and the right to use contraceptives (or not) in the state’s constitution, clarifying that the state cannot interfere in a person’s reproductive freedom. The measure passed with overwhelming support, as it was expected, according to preliminary results

View results here.

Michigan, “Reproductive Freedom For All” — PASSED

The measure “Reproductive Freedom For All” appeared on the ballot as Proposition 3. The measure passed, creating the broad right to “reproductive freedom” the law in Michigan. The law also strikes 1931 abortion ban and potentially other abortion regulations.

“Today, the people of Michigan voted to restore the reproductive rights they’ve had for 50 years,” Reproductive Freedom campaign spokesperson Darci McConnell told Bridge Michigan.

“Proposal 3′s passage marks an historic victory for abortion access in our state and in our country – and Michigan has paved the way for future efforts to restore the rights and protections of Roe v. Wade nationwide.”

View results here.

Read the rest of the story at reckon.news.

The racist link between purity culture and Christian Nationalism and why it matters in elections

In June, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said the Christian Nationalism movement will “stop school shootings,” “stop the crime in our streets” and “stop sexual immorality.” The embattled Republican lawmaker has gawked at concerns about the movement and its racist and sexist underpinnings.

Purity culture, which teaches that sex is only appropriate between a married couple and a cisgender man and woman, and Christian Nationalism, the idea that America was intended to be a Christian nation , have existed hand in hand for well over a century. The phenomenon isn’t new (nor has it ever really “died” in America—it has been here since the Puritans were executing people for being gay or committing adultery).

Both ideologies are essentially the same and center an ideal white experience White, Christian religious views are considered the best and something Americans should aspire to in order to be successful and safe, as Greene suggested this summer. The majority White evangelical Protestants (81%) say the U.S. should be a Christian nation, according to data Pew Research Center published last week.

Many prominent conservative politicians like Greene and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert have proudly called themselves Christian Nationalists and encouraged their voters to embrace those ideas as well. The laws they support also uphold many purity culture values through bans on transgender healthcare. A video posted by The Daily Show by Trevor Noah spliced statements by KKK founder David Duke with statements from Boebert, Greene and other far-right politicians.

Our society is becoming increasingly diverse, with Gen Z expected to be the most diverse American generation yet. Our religious makeup is changing as well, with Pew Research Center estimating Christianity no longer be the majority religion in America by 2040.

Christian Nationalism has been a topic of discussion in today’s midterms and the upcoming 2024 election. In today’s political climate, concerns about sexual purity and pro-America views have infiltrated American Conservatism. Former President Donald Trump increased funding for abstinence-only sex education—undoing Former President Barack Obama’s more comprehensive approach to sex education. Abstinence-only sex education is still funded by federal dollars to the tune of around $100 million per year.

Reckon spoke with three experts who have been studying these issues and asked them about past and present connections between purity culture and White Christian Nationalism, and how they’re seeing it play out in the political realm as Americans prepare for the midterm elections.

These experts are:

Bradley Onishi – professor of religion at Skidmore College, author and host of the podcast Straight White American Jesus

Sara Moslener – professor of religion at Central Michigan University, author and creator of The After Purity Project

Angie Hong – Korean American speaker, writer and theologian

Read the rest of the interview at reckon.news.

Other election-related news you can use

  • Georgia runoff election between Warnock and Walker will be held Dec. 6. Exit poll suggest around 88% of white evangelical Christians voted for Walker. (Newsweek)
  • Despite Mastriano’s loss, don’t count out Christian Nationalism (Religion News Service)
  • Tennessee Republicans have pre-filed a bill to make drag shows an “obscenity” (INTO)
Anna Beahm

Anna Beahm | abeahm@reckonmedia.com

I report on the intersection of religion and sexuality in America. Follow me on Twitter @_AnnaBeahm

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